York U names community agency partner in residence



York University’s Community Engagement Centre has appointed an alumnus as its community agency partner in residence.

Eritrea-born Jamila Aman will work with the centre, and community and university partners to support experiential education and community engagement to create a better understanding of the benefits and challenges of practical education from a community partner perspective.

As part of her role, she will help the advisory council of the centre’s project, Centring Community: Developing a Community Centric Action Plan for Experiential Education, to foster the development of pragmatic education activities and strategies for York students at the centre and in the adjoining Black Creek area.

“A significant piece of York University-TD Community Engagement Centre’s mandate is to enrich the experience of York students and we have taken this up largely through our support of experiential learning,” said the centre’s executive director, Sue Levesque. “Several of our partnerships at the centre create opportunities for York students from various disciplinary backgrounds to work together on projects that our community agency partners have identified as advancing community priorities, in addition to providing rich learning opportunities for York students.

“Within these partnerships, we have had much discussion about the reciprocal benefits of experiential education for both the community and York University.”

The university’s Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) provided the funding for Aman’s new role. A year ago, York’s provost and vice-president academic, Patrick Monahan, announced the establishment of the AIF to provide an investment of $2.5 million in support of innovation and change at the university.

“This AIF-funded role will give us the chance to extend those discussions and produce a number of tools for new projects,” Levesque said.

Aman comes to her new post highly recommended and qualified after landing in Canada 27 years ago as a government-sponsored refugee from her war-torn birthplace via Sudan. She has spent most of her time in Canada working tirelessly to facilitate the smooth transition of newcomers by lobbying politicians and funders and spearheading the development of meaningful programs and services.

Arriving in the Greater Toronto Area in 1984 after spending seven years in Sudan, Aman completed her last year of high school in London and moved to Toronto where she found employment with the Learning and Enrichment Foundation, which initiates programs that reflect the needs of the mostly immigrant population it serves.

Committed to furthering her education to advance and confront new challenges in her field, Aman obtained a business administration degree with a specialty in general management and public administration and completed settlement counseling and English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher certification programs at George Brown College. She is also a graduate of York University’s Schulich School of Business Executive Director’s Institute.

Aman, who was executive director of Northwood Neighbourhood Services for 18 years before taking up her new appointment, has been a board member of the Learning Disability Association’s Toronto chapter for the past three years and has an extensive background as a volunteer. In 2009, she was honoured with a Skills for Change New Pioneer award, which recognizes the enormous contributions immigrants and refugees have made to Canada.

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